COVID-19 had a huge mortality impact in the US in 2020 and accounted for the majority of the 1.5-year reduction in 2020 life expectancy at birth. There were also substantial racial/ethnic disparities in the mortality impact of COVID-19 in 2020, with the Black and Latino populations experiencing reductions in life expectancy at birth over twice the reduction experienced by the White population. Despite continued vulnerability of the Black and Latino populations, the hope was that widespread distribution of effective vaccines would mitigate the overall impact and reduce racial/ethnic disparities in 2021. In this study, we use cause-deleted life table methods to estimate the impact of COVID-19 mortality on 2021 US period life expectancy. Our partial-year estimates, based on provisional COVID-19 deaths for January-early October 2021 suggest that racial/ethnic disparities have persisted and that life expectancy at birth in 2021 has already declined by 1.2 years from pre-pandemic levels. Our projected full-year estimates, based on projections of COVID-19 deaths through the end of 2021 from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, suggest a 1.8-year reduction in US life expectancy at birth from pre-pandemic levels, a steeper decline than the estimates produced for 2020. The reductions in life expectancy at birth estimated for the Black and Latino populations are 1.6-2.4 times the impact for the White population.
Competing Interest Statement
The authors have declared no competing interest.
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Aging under Award Number T32AG000037. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
I confirm all relevant ethical guidelines have been followed, and any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained.
The details of the IRB/oversight body that provided approval or exemption for the research described are given below:
This study involves only publicly available, aggregate data.
I confirm that all necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived, and that any patient/participant/sample identifiers included were not known to anyone (e.g., hospital staff, patients or participants themselves) outside the research group so cannot be used to identify individuals.
I understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as ClinicalTrials.gov. I confirm that any such study reported in the manuscript has been registered and the trial registration ID is provided (note: if posting a prospective study registered retrospectively, please provide a statement in the trial ID field explaining why the study was not registered in advance).
I have followed all appropriate research reporting guidelines and uploaded the relevant EQUATOR Network research reporting checklist(s) and other pertinent material as supplementary files, if applicable.
Paper in collection COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 preprints from medRxiv and bioRxiv